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Booom, booom, booom, bom, bom, bom

Hats off and thrown wildly up in the air to all the students, their parents and teachers from RSA Family of Academies who raised the roof at the RSA yesterday with the infectious sound of pounding drums to conclude the RSA Academies Arts Day.

The loud, booming, warm, rhythmic sounds of these drums resonated throughout the RSA.  I wish you had been there to marvel at the confidence of these students and their parents who wholeheartedly (and with an understandable amount of jitter) embraced the ‘get involved’ element of the day and breathed in the energy.  They were an absolute credit to themselves and their schools.  I even surprised myself during the drama workshop, getting in a sweat chasing parents around the Great Room to catch their ‘tails’ wasn’t exactly in the brief.  But it was all gloriously creative, and in this creativity emerged discipline, listening, mindfulness, consideration, friendship, bravery, confidence, leadership and imagination. What a heady mix.

As well as a drama workshop, we had art and music workshops, a visit to Trafalgar Square and the magnificent blue cockerel on the Fourth Plinth, followed by a quick scoot round the National Gallery.  It would have been rude not to.  The art workshop showed us how taking a painting on display at John Adam Street as inspiration leads to different trajectories, in this case the words ‘kinetic’ and ‘random’ were chosen by the students, parents and teachers who then told these themes out in an animation that they took part in and helped to create.

All this was mixed in with an assortment of inspiring creative practitioners who explained what it was they did for a living and how they got to do it, and revealed the breadth of different career options and roles that exist within the arts.  We heard about curating, being a gallery assistant, a poet, a graphic designer, an actor, a creative learning co-ordinator, a composer, a DJ, a drummer, a musician, a playwright, entrepreneurship, cultural policy, operating on a local and global scale, having money and not having money, operating commercially, operating not for profit and for social outcomes.  It was all in there and showed how earning a living from creative talent is a real thing.

And there were prizes.  Boy, were there prizes.  This year for the first time ever (and this is, as Matthew Taylor said, an impressive thing when you think we’ve got 250 years of history in which not to have done it before) we announced winners for the inaugural RSA Pupil Design Awards and the RSA Academies Art Prize.  The judges were so impressed by the quality of the submissions we had unexpected prizes announced for ‘commendation’ and ‘most impressive progress’.   Very many congratulations to everyone who took part.

Of course, it is difficult to know what the impact of this day will be in the long run, who we might have inspired and how, what seeds may have been sown, and who did something they’d never dreamed they do before.  So for now we are all just buzzing.


— Alison Critchley (@Ali_Critchley) July 8, 2014



Huge thanks to the wonderful workshop facilitators; Reza Ben Gajra, Patrice Naiambana and Jo Wills and the Drum Works team from the Barbican.

Huge thanks also to the generous careers conversationalists; Michaela Crimmin, Inua Ellams, Anthony Gray, Kirsten Dunne, Patrice Naiambana and Jo Wills.


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